In the article “So What the Heck Is Net Zero, Anyway? ” in the Sierra Club’s Sierra magazine, SEI Senior Researcher Derik Broekhoff commented on the use of offsets in combating climate change.

It’s hard to be 100 percent confident that by buying a carbon credit, you have truly enabled additional mitigation to happen. If you are buying carbon credits instead of directly reducing emissions, that can be a problem. But that does not mean that ‘offsets’ are not a legitimate source of emission reductions.

He stressed that offsets should be thought of as an additional way to cut emissions, not as something a company can do instead of making reductions.

The risk is that many may fail to appreciate what is involved in getting to net zero, and the degree to which they would (in a world truly aligned with limiting warming to 1.5C) need to focus on the ‘zero’ part, not the ‘net.’

He added that net-zero is better thought of as a global goal, rather than one that should be pursued by individual actors.

The latter idea too often leads to the conclusion that all you really need to do is offset your emissions.